down to eat.

This weekend was the end of our 3rd cut with RP (and the end of our first ever CF Ripcord Nutrition Challenge! Woohoo!). I can’t believe we’ve been following RP for almost a year and a half now! They just make it so simple with their templates telling me exactly how much food to eat for every meal and how to make adjustments depending on my training for the day. Following RP has improved my relationship with food so much. Growing up, I was always under the impression that carbs are bad for you, so I would try to avoid them if possible. Which was miserable because carbs are the most delicious. I also had a bad habit of really shorting myself on food, not so much starving myself, but really keeping my calories at a lower level than they needed to be. I was never overweight, but I was also never what I would consider in shape or fit. Thank God RP came into my life and taught me that I can eat carbs, carbs, and more carbs (and protein and fat too, of course) and be in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I now know how to fuel my body properly so that I can do my best in a workout, recover properly, and sleep better. And if I decide to treat myself to a guilty pleasure (Reese’s cups, Cake Bake Shop, Thai food, stop me before I ramble off an excessively long list of my fave foods), I no longer feel the guilt. I thoroughly enjoy whatever treat I’ve eaten and move forward, picking back up on the healthier choices for my next meal. With that being said, I ate ALL the food this weekend in celebration of being finished with our cut. We had the greatest “treat yo-self” weekend. Oh, Parks and Recreation, I sure do miss you…I know I can’t be the only one. Anyways, we had the greatest “treat yo-self” weekend and I don’t regret it for a second!

Josh made his best homemade deep dish pizza yet- flaky, buttery dough; the perfect amount of crunchy green peppers, onions, and mushrooms; my yummy homemade pizza sauce; tons of ooey gooey mozzarella cheese…and he made an extra batch of dough for homemade breadsticks sprinkled with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. This man is after my heart, y’all!

I might have fallen asleep on the couch after eating that amazeballs pizza while Josh whipped up a homemade chocolate chip skillet cookie for two for dessert. We paired the cookie with the always scrumptious Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (Middle West Whiskey and Pecans flavor this time- whiskey flavored ice cream with hints of butterscotch and honey, loaded with salty toasted pecans). For those of you that don’t already know, you can have pints of Jeni’s ice cream shipped right to your house! Do it! There is nothing quite like a warm-from-the-oven gooey melty chocolate chip cookie with that cold bite of silky smooth ice cream on top…it just makes my heart so happy.

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We capped off our date night feast by watching “The Big Sick”. I really enjoyed this movie- there was plenty of humor, it kept my interest piqued the whole time, and I got sucked into the real-life romance of Kumail Nanjiani and his girlfriend, Emily. Definitely recommend seeing this one when you’re in the mood for a romcom or really any time at all.

As luck would have it, we had leftovers from Saturday night, so we sat ourselves down for a Sunday “brunch” of deep dish pizza and breadsticks. If possible, the pizza was even better because it had time for all the flavors to meld overnight. *drool*                               

In keeping with the “treat yo-self” theme, we got the idea to make a trip up to the Cake Bake Shop for lunch. And by lunch, I really just mean dessert. We never make a trip there for anything other than dessert. We stopped at Starbucks on the way because Josh won a $5 gift card for filling out a survey and I got the cutest little hedgehog cake pop!

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We perused the menu and decided on the apple crumble cake for me, the peanut butter banana cream pie for Josh, and a peanut butter honey and jam sandwich cookie for us to share. Everything was beyond delicious. The apple crumble cake had layers of spice cake filled with caramel buttercream and caramel all topped with apple pie crumble. A dream cake for fall. The pie consisted of a peanut butter crust topped with sliced bananas, banana cream, fresh whipped cream, chopped peanuts, and a caramel drizzle. My favorite, however, was the peanut butter honey and jam sandwich cookie- there was the most delectable blackberry jam with honey and peanut butter buttercream sandwiched between two peanut butter cookies. I could have eaten spoonfuls of the blackberry jam all by itself. I’ll most definitely be making a trip back up for the blackberry cake smothered in that scrumptious blackberry jam.  

We’re adorbs…I’m biased. Whatever 😉

After all the dessert, we needed to get moving or I was going to fall asleep. Where better to walk around than the mall? We spent a few hours browsing through the stores, just spending time together with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything. It was lovely. When we left the mall, we found ourselves in a debate about whether to just go home or go eat somewhere. Eating somewhere won. The next question was, should we get Thai food or Cheesecake Factory nachos? Now, I love me some Thai food. And I’ve never had the nachos from Cheesecake Factory, but Josh has talked them up good since he ate them once Black Friday shopping several years ago. We pulled into the parking lot and flipped a coin to decide where to eat. Tails (Cheesecake Factory) it was. The nachos did not disappoint. The chips were extra crispy crunchy, covered in queso and shredded cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, jalapenos, and spicy shredded chicken. I can see why Josh has had these on his mind for so long. We headed home after our day of eating to lounge on the couch and relax. This weekend was what I needed to reset after cutting for three months, just enjoying time with my husband, eating lots of yummy treats, and gearing myself up to maintain through and enjoy the holidays. Life is too short to be stressed about what to eat and worrying all the fun away. So, take a meal, a day, even a weekend if you’re so inclined, and treat yourself!

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the fittest on earth

The CrossFit Games is one of my favorite times of the year. The CF season is quite long- Hundreds of thousands of individuals from all over the entire world complete 5 different workouts over 5 weekends in the CF Open beginning in late February. The top athletes from 17 regions around the world move on to compete in a three day competition at regionals. From regionals, the top 40 men, women, and teams along with 80 teenagers and 240 masters move on to compete for 4 days at the CF Games. The CF Games are like the Olympics to CrossFitters. It is THE competition to determine who is the “Fittest on Earth”.

This year the Games were quite different. For the past 10 years, the Games have been held in Carson, California. This past year, CF headquarters announced there would be a new home for the Games for the next 3 years-Madison, Wisconsin. We had planned to skip this year, but with this news, Josh and I decided (along with a group of our friends from the gym) that we could more easily afford a trip up there to enjoy the long weekend. To save money, we drove up to Madison and rented a suite for all of us to share. We only bought Festival passes ($100) for the Games events this year also. Festival passes gave us access to the outside daytime events, as well as the masters and teenagers workouts. We were supposed to have access to the daytime Coliseum events as well, but for some reason that changed and we could only see the outside events. In past years, we’ve bought Festival+Coliseum passes which get you into the outside and inside events, but those tickets were starting at about $335 per ticket! We just couldn’t justify spending that with all the other vacations we have planned for the year.

No one in the group was able to head up on Wednesday, so we ended up leaving Thursday afternoon. Ashley picked Josh and I up, then we headed up to Columbus to pick up Jake and Leslie. The drive up was rather uneventful- unfortunately we timed it pretty poorly and ended up hitting after work rush hour traffic in Chicago and we got stuck behind a car accident which added about 45 minutes extra to our trip. Thankfully, though, we all packed food and drinks so we only had to make a couple stops for bathroom breaks and filling up the gas tank.

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Check out our awesome group of NoBulls!

We finally made it to Madison around 10 pm and checked into our hotel. I have no idea how we got so lucky, but the hotel I booked was fantastic. It was only about a 5 minute walk to Alliant Energy Center where the Games were being held- you could see the venue from our hotel room. Our suite had two queen beds and a pull out couch, so there was enough room for all of us to sleep comfortably. And the best part was that our room had a stove top with two burners, a microwave, and a full size fridge! It was so perfect because everyone in our group is doing the nutrition challenge with our gym, trying to eat healthy, and we were all trying to save money! After we got our stuff dropped off in the room, we drove over to Walmart to stock up on food for the weekend. We definitely didn’t eat the yummiest food (lunch meat, canned tuna, green beans, and steamer bags of broccoli and brussels sprouts), but it was quick, fairly inexpensive, and easy. You could tell the Games were being hosted close by, as I have never seen so many fit, healthy people walking around Walmart before! By the time we got back to our hotel room, our friend Joel had arrived! It had been almost 9 months since any of us had seen him and we were sooooo happy to be reunited with our Joelybear!

Friday morning we woke up bright and early to eat breakfast and watch the events for the day. The first three events happened on Thursday- there was a run/swim workout, a cyclocross bike workout, and a muscle-up/snatch workout. I wish we had been able to go up to watch those workouts in person, but they were still very exciting on Facebook Live videos. We ventured through vendor village on the way to North Park for the first event. Vendor village had a lot of great booths, but it seemed smaller this year than when it was in California. And unfortunately with us arriving on Friday instead of Thursday when it opened, a lot of vendors were already sold out! I couldn’t believe they didn’t have more inventory with the amount of people they knew would be coming to watch the Games. One of my favorites was the Saddleback Leather booth where we took selfies with a cow for a chance to win a free backpack (unfortunately none of us won, sad face). #StrongestBagsOnEarth

The first event on Friday was an outdoor obstacle course race. The weather was terrible! It was around 55°F, cloudy, windy, and slightly misting. Thank God we were all prepared and had packed long sleeves, sweat pants, and rain jackets or it would have been even more miserable. The obstacle course was pretty fun to see with log walks, a rope wall to climb, an army crawl, rope swings, hurdles, and more.

After we watched the teams and individuals complete the obstacle course, we headed back inside vendor village to walk around. The highlight of my weekend there was that I got free Kill Cliff drinks for wearing a Kill Cliff shirt. And Zevia was handing out free sparkling waters, energy drinks, and their soda! I definitely drank my weight in Kill Cliff and Zevia.      

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The remainder of our Friday was spent walking back and forth to the hotel to eat food and laying on the concrete floor in the beer garden to watch the Coliseum events. It was really quite disappointing to pay $100 and only be able to see one team/individual event live and have to watch the rest of the events on TV…which I could have stayed home and done on my comfy couch. We made the best of it though and had a big group snuggle party on the floor watching the team max clean and jerk event and the individual max snatch event. Hands down, the max lift events are my favorite every time! There is just something about seeing people pick up some really heavy weight and throw down, especially when they PR! There were some crazy strong people- one of the guys on a team (I wish I could remember which one) opened(yes, opened!) with a 347# clean and jerk…and went on to hit 367# and 377#! And a girl on another team was push jerking around 230#! Just so impressive. On the individual side, my favorite lifts were from Chyna Cho and Cassidy Lance-McWherter who both PR’ed their snatches and were just having so much fun! Even in the beer garden, you could hear the roar of excitement from the crowd with every lift made.     

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Saturday morning was much better weather for the outside event. It was sunny and in the low 70s, with a nice breeze. The team event involved a (I think it weighed around 1000 lbs or more) sled drag backwards and push forwards. The individual event, “Strongman’s Fear”, involved heavy yoke carries (420#/300#), farmer’s carries (170#/120#), and sled drags (265#/220#) with handstand walking in between the carries. It looked really hard, but was really fun to watch.

          

After those events were done, we walked around vendor village some. I met Nicole Biscuiti (founder of the Chestee sports bras), taught Jake how to take a selfie, and of course I stocked up on Kill Cliff and Zevia!

 

We ate lunch back at the room and then came back and watched the bar muscle-up clean ladder event from the roof of the RomWod booth. This event was awesome- the weight of the cleans increased throughout the workout and a lot of people PR’ed at the end of the ladder! I can’t imagine PR’ing at the Games, let after so many events over that past few days.  

We also spent a lot of time at the Assault Fitness booth trying out all their equipment and their NormaTec systems. I’ve got to say, the NormaTec leg system was super relaxing and I wouldn’t mind having one of those at home…if I can just find an extra $1500 laying around first lol.

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Sunday was the final day of the Games. It was a little cloudy outside, but the temperature was great and we were able to get pretty decent seats to watch the “Madison Triplet” event (it involved running, sandbag cleans, and burpees over straw bales…only in the Midwest, am I right?). We ate a quick lunch at our hotel room, goofed around in vendor village for a bit, then headed to the age group pavilion to watch the final master’s events. The master’s group ranges from 35 to 60+ years old. And they. are. amazing. The event we watched was Diane+Final (Diane is handstand push-ups and deadlifts, while the final event was rope climbs and thrusters). There were several athletes in the 50-54 age group that beat the times of the 35-39 year olds! It was such an inspiration to watch. And they’re all super ripped and have abs! There’s hope for me yet, you guys, just give me another 20 years!

We watched the 2223 interval event (rope climbs, calories on the SkiErg, and overhead squats) at the Assault Fitness booth. While we were hanging out we just happened to look across the way to see Nick Shaw! Nick is the founder of RP Strength, the diet and hypertrophy templates Josh and I follow. We had to go over and talk to him, of course. We wouldn’t be where we are today with our nutrition and training without him.

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We ended our Games weekend eating dinner in the room and watching the final event on our phones through Facebook Live. The final event was so exhilarating and quick and a race to the finish. I absolutely loved it! It was super neat to watch when the winners were announced and how emotional it all was for them- they invest so much time and sacrifice so much to compete at the Games and it’s over in the blink of an eye. While this year’s Games wasn’t entirely what I expected from a spectator experience, it was definitely fun and full of laughs. The Games will be held in Madison for at least the next two years and if we happen to go back, we’re going to splurge and spend the couple extra hundred dollars for the Coliseum passes for sure. If you go, make sure you get the Festival+Coliseum passes too!

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Don’t let that face fool you, he definitely missed me!

it’s…meal prep time!

I’ve tried a lot of different diets and eating habits throughout the years and the only one I’ve been successful with is Renaissance Periodization (RP). I’ve counted calories, I’ve eaten whatever I wanted when I wanted, I’ve followed a Paleo diet, and I’ve done IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). RP has been the only “diet” that has helped me lose fat while gaining muscle and it’s also the only one I have been able to maintain for a long time. The biggest reason I have been able to keep up with doing RP long term is because I meal prep every week.  So, I’m going to take you through what a week of meal prepping looks like for us.

On Thursday’s, we go grocery shopping (does this make anyone else think of the Mean Girls quote “On Wednesday’s we wear pink”? lol). We spend a lot of our time around the outside sections of the store where all the fresh/frozen fruits, veggies, and meats are. Side note: we’ve been budgeting using tips from Dave Ramsey and do the majority of our shopping at Aldi’s with a few purchases required at Walmart to get everything we need.   

A typical grocery cart for us is filled with:

Fruit- Gala apples, strawberries, blueberries

Veggies- green peppers, white mushrooms, zucchini, yellow onions, canned green beans, diced canned tomatoes, frozen spinach, frozen Brussels sprouts, frozen broccoli (Walmart is the only place that carries the large 3 lb bags…Josh eats through 3 bags a week!)

Carbs- sweet potatoes, Dave’s Killer Bread Thin-Sliced 21 Whole Grains & Seeds (Walmart), mini caramel rice cakes, corn tortillas, instant white rice

Meat- pre-sliced baked ham, boneless skinless chicken breast/pork chops/pork loin (no more than 10% fat for any of the meats), eggs

Misc- crunchy peanut butter, mild salsa, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, vanilla light Greek nonfat yogurt (Walmart), Diet Cherry 7-Up or Diet A&W Root Beer (Walmart)

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We always try to keep lots of low calorie condiments (soy sauce, salsa, buffalo sauce, southwest spicy mustard) and spices (garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a few different McCormick’s Grill Mates seasonings) on hand to liven things up so we don’t get bored with our foods.  

When we get home Thursday after shopping, I go ahead and roast all the broccoli in the oven for about an hour at 425℉. While the broccoli is roasting, I use my handy dandy Chop Wizard Pro to chop my veggies. If you all don’t have a Chop Wizard Pro, get to Bed Bath and Beyond right this instant and purchase one! I used to hand chop all our veggies which would take me close to 2 hours…seriously, ain’t nobody got time for all that. Now, using the Chop Wizard I can have all our veggies chopped in less than an hour. I chop up all the green peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and onions to use in our veggie “chili”. All the chopped veggies and broccoli just get put in containers and refrigerated until Saturday. The only reason I start our meal prep on Thursday is to get it out of the way-we sometimes have things going on Friday evening and we’re at the gym all morning Saturday and usually busy Saturday nights, so it would be beyond stressful to try to cram it all in.   

 

On Friday night, I throw our pork loin or chicken breast in the Crock Pot to cook on low overnight (usually about 8 hours). I don’t add anything else to the meat, just keep it plain, as I add different condiments to it later when I portion out all our meals.

When I wake up Saturday, I go ahead and shred up the pork or chicken in the Crock Pot. That goes into the fridge until we get back from the gym. After getting home from the gym, I start our veggie “chili” so it can cook down while we’re eating lunch. This is where all the chopped up veggies and diced tomatoes come into play. Sometimes, there is extra zucchini which I sauté up on the stove to use in my meals. If we bought pork chops for a meat source, this is when I bake them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes at 350℉. Once the chili is done and cooling on the stove, I set out all our Isolator Fitness meal prep containers on the table. I portion out enough food for 3 meals a day for 5 work days (15 meals each). Josh makes breakfast fresh each morning and we make our own “bedtime snack” every night. We also have a protein shake and a workout carb shake ( on days we workout) that Josh makes up the night before. In each container, I weigh out our portions of shredded meat needed according to our RP templates. Next, I portion out all the veggie chili as evenly as possible between mine and Josh’s meals (we usually get 10-15 one-cup servings depending on how large all the veggies are). For whatever meals still need veggies, I portion out the roasted broccoli for Josh and either canned green beans or sauteed zucchini for me. For the broccoli, green beans, and sauteed zucchini, I don’t measure out any certain amount, just fill up the rest of the meal container. I add southwest spicy mustard or homemade sugar-free BBQ sauce to meals that don’t have veggie chili in them for some extra flavor.     

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On Sundays, I roast the sweet potatoes in the oven for a little over an hour at 425℉ and cook a pot of white rice (we usually have to make rice once more in the middle of the week).   

Throughout the weekdays, Josh makes breakfast every morning while I weigh out the carbs needed for our 2 work day meals. I wait to portion out the carbs until that day because life happens and sometimes things come up and we’re unable to make it into the gym, so we need to eat a little differently (on “rest” days, we get fewer carbs and a little more fat, while a “training” day is more carbs and less fat). Josh made up some handy flashcards for our most frequently eaten carbs sources that tell us how much to weigh out to hit a certain amount of carbs. Because of these flash cards, it takes me no time at all to weigh out apples, sweet potatoes, and rice for our work day meals. We also keep an extra scale and jar of peanut butter at work for when we get fat with our meals.

One of the best parts of meal prep is that when we get home late from the gym throughout the week (and don’t at all feel like fixing anything because it’s basically bedtime), we already have our meat and veggies ready to microwave and just need to add whatever carbs we want! Josh typically eats sweet potatoes and Dave’s Killer Bread, while I like to have a corn tortilla and Dave’s Killer Bread.

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For Josh’s bedtime snack, he fixes up a bowl of casein “pudding” with apples (or blueberries and strawberries), cinnamon, and peanut butter. My bedtime snack is light Greek nonfat yogurt with cinnamon, cocoa powder, and blueberries with a side of mini caramel rice cakes and crunchy peanut butter…I forgot to take a picture of my bedtime snack as I was distracted by Rocko looking so cute when begging.   

Over the weekend, we usually have extra meat, veggies, sweet potatoes and rice leftover after meal prepping to use for our meals. We honestly don’t have room in our fridge to portion out enough meals for the entire week, so it’s just easier to make those meals as we eat them. And that leaves us room to make some fun “Saturday date night” recipes from the new RP cookbook we just purchased.

I know it might seem very overwhelming at first, but meal prepping has been a total lifesaver for us. Spending an hour or two over a couple of days is much more doable for us than spending 5-6 hours all at one time prepping. And let me tell you from lots of experience, our week goes much smoother having our meals ready for us to just throw in the microwave.

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